By Alan Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) - Australian Daniel Ricciardo has spoken of the awkward pre-podium silences between Mercedes team mates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, while tipping the latter for the season's Formula One title.

The smiling Red Bull driver finished second in Singapore last weekend, with Rosberg winning and triple champion Hamilton third.

The result sent Rosberg back on top in the championship, the German now eight points clear of Hamilton with six rounds remaining.

"When Lewis made up that deficit to Nico and came back it was like OK, nobody's going to touch Lewis," he told Sky Sports television during a trip to Australia ahead of next week's Malaysian race.

"Nico's come back... I'm going to throw a spanner in the works and say Rosberg," he added when asked to pick one of the pair for the title.

Rosberg has won eight races to Hamilton's six this year, including the three since the August break just when it looked like the Briton had the momentum.

"The best part is if you get on the podium with them two, in the room before we go out on the podium just after the race, you take the helmet off and it's awkward for me because it's just so silent," said Ricciardo.

"I don't like silence too much, so I'm like trying to either talk to myself or make conversation with them but they are just happy enjoying the awkward silence. It's quite fun."

Hamilton and Rosberg have battled for the title for the last three years, their relationship going through the occasional frosty patch, and this season the competition is closer than ever between the two.

When Hamilton won his third title in Texas last year, he tossed a cap to Rosberg while they waited in the podium room and had it slung straight back by the unhappy German.

Rosberg later described the incident as "just our typical games".

The pair have been on the podium together eight times in 15 races this year. Ricciardo has joined them three times.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar)